Mental health care vital if children are to recover

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A survey by the NSPCC has found that nearly all health professionals believe there are not enough mental health services for children who have suffered sexual abuse.

Just over half blamed waiting lists, and 78% said accessing help had become more difficult in the last five years, reports the BBC.

A wide range of barriers, including rigid therapy acceptance criteria, lack of local services and cruelly long waiting times, stand in the way. Often it is only when children reach rock bottom, perhaps self-harming or even after a suicide attempt that the services they need so desperately open up to them.

It found that in many cases children have to wait more than five months to get specialist support.

The survey also looked at services such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, provided by the NHS and the voluntary and private sectors. Almost all of the professionals polled said there were not enough of these services, either.

The NSPCC said victims were often referred to mental health services by GPs and councils, and while not all abused children would have a diagnosable issue, many would still need therapeutic support to help them deal with the trauma.

It said if abused children did not receive the right kind of help and support, the damage could last a lifetime and many could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in adulthood.

Some children struggle as best they can through the remaining years of childhood, find unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs, and see the impact of their abuse infect other aspects of their lives, their education, their employment, and their relationships.

The NSPCC have launched a major new campaign - It's Time, which is calling on government and local agencies to increase the number of vital services.

Every Child Journal
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